Napoleonic Europe and the Post-Napoleonic Era for AP European History (page 3)
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By 1802, Napoleon had crossed the Alps, knocked Austria out of the war, made peace with Russia, and persuaded Great Britain to sign what proved to be a temporary truce in the Peace of Amiens. But by 1805, further efforts to expand the Empire again put France at war with Great Britain and a new coalition. Napoleon would fight on for another 10 years, permanently transforming some aspects of the political and social landscape of Europe, before eventually overextending his reach and meeting defeat at Waterloo. Following Napoleon's defeat, the traditional aristocratic houses of Europe worked in concert to reestablish and defend their dominance against challenges from the forces of liberalism and nationalism.
Post-Revolutionary France and the Napoleonic Code
The French Revolution effectively came to an end with Napoleon's coup d'état in November of 1799 and the establishment of the consulate, a three-man executive body. In 1802, Napoleon was acknowledged as the sole executive officer and given the title "first consul for life." By the time Napoleon had himself declared Emperor in 1804, he was well on his way to completing the process, begun by the revolution, of creating a strong central government and administrative uniformity in France.
To solidify his position, Napoleon took the following measures:
- He suppressed royalists and republicans through the use of spies and surprise arrests.
- He censored and controlled the press.
- He regulated what was taught in schools.
- He reconciled France with the Roman Church by signing the Concordat of 1801, which stipulated that French clergy would be chosen and paid by the state but consecrated by the pope.
To provide a system of uniform law and administrative policy, Napoleon created the Civil Code of 1804, more widely known as the Napoleonic Code. It incorporated many principles that had been espoused during the revolution, some liberal and some conservative. In accordance with liberal principles, the Code:
- safeguarded all forms of property
- upheld equality before the law
- established the right to choose a profession
- guaranteed promotion on merit for employees of the state
- upheld the ban on working men's associations
- upheld the patriarchal nature of French society by granting men extensive rights over their wives and children
In accordance with conservative principles, the Code:
As Napoleon conquered Europe, he spread the Code across the continent. The overall effect of the Code on Europe was to erode the remnants of the old feudal system by further weakening the traditional power of the nobility and clergy.
Between 1805 and 1810, Napoleon's forces won a series of battles that allowed France to dominate all of Continental Europe except the Balkan Peninsula. The key victories included:
- the Battle of Austerlitz (December 1805), defeating Russo-Austrian forces
- the Battle of Jena (October 1806), defeating Prussian forces
- the Battle of Friedland (June 1807), defeating Russian forces
- Germany to the Rhine
- the German coastal regions to the western Baltic
- west-central Italy, including Rome, Genoa, and Trieste
- Holland, ruled by his brother Louis
- Westphalia, ruled by his brother Jérôme
- Spain, ruled by his brother Joseph
- the kingdom of Italy, ruled by his stepson Eugène
- the Kingdom of Naples, ruled by his brother-in-law Joachim Murat
- the Confederation of the Rhine, eventually consisting of 18 German states that had been part of the now-defunct Holy Roman Empire
- the 19 cantons of the Swiss Confederation
- the Duchy of Warsaw, carved out of Prussia's Polish lands
- Austria, where Francis II ruled a kingdom diminished by the disintegration of the Holy Roman Empire
- Prussia, now much smaller for losing its Polish lands and some areas to the Confederation Russia, which, following the defeat at Friedland, signed the Treaty of Tilsit on 7 July 1807, recognizing France's claims in Europe
The resulting French Empire consisted of some states that were annexed directly into the French Empire, including:
The Empire also included five satellite kingdoms ruled by Napoleon's relatives:
The remaining portions of the Empire consisted of a series of subservient states and confederations, which included:
Those European states that remained independent from France were reluctant allies that simply had no choice but to bow to Napoleon's power. Such states included:
The one European nation that still threatened Napoleon was Great Britain, whose superior naval power, as exemplified by its victory over the combined French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805, made it unconquerable. In order to weaken Britain, Napoleon established what came to be known as the Continental System, whereby the Continental European states and kingdoms under French control were forbidden to trade with Britain.
Neoclassicism in Napoleonic France
During the reign of Napoleon, neoclassicism became the dominant architectural style in Europe. Napoleon's model for the reshaping of Europe into his own personal empire was the Roman Empire. Accordingly, he had the city of Paris redesigned to evoke the glory and power of ancient Rome. An early example of a building commissioned by Napoleon in the neoclassical style is the Temple of Glory, or La Madeleine (completed in 1829), a monument to the fallen soldiers of Napoleon's Great Army. Designed by the architect Pierre Alexandre Vignon, La Madeleine is a neoclassical monument in the style of a Greco-Roman Corinthian temple. The most famous example of neoclassical architecture executed in Napoleonic France is the Arc de Triomphe, commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to honor those who fought for France in the Napoleonic Wars. Designed by Jean Francois Chalgrin, the neoclassical arch was built in the center of the Place de l'Étoile (now renamed the Place Charles de Gaulle) at the end of the Champs-Élysées. The arch serves as a sort of centerpiece for the Axe historique, a sequence of monuments that runs through the center of Paris.
Decline and Fall of Napoleon and His Empire
The decline and fall of Napoleon and his empire were due to a combination of flawed policies and growing resistance to his rule. The trade restrictions of the Continental System failed to weaken Britain, and succeeded instead in being a constant source of resentment amongst the conquered states of Europe. The British responded with a counterblockade that damaged French economy and engaged in a lively smuggling enterprise with the rest of Europe.
The combination of the restrictions of the Continental System and general resentment of French rule led to the growth of a new national spirit in many parts of Continental Europe.
In Spain, popular resistance to the rule of Napoleon's brother Joseph was immediate. There were demonstrations and riots in Madrid. The brutal repression with which Napoleon's troops met these demonstrations only stiffened opposition, the spirit of which was captured forever in Francisco de Goya's painting titled The Third of May, 1808, which depicts a French firing squad executing helpless Spanish protestors. Opposition to French domination grew into what has been called the first example of guerrilla warfare, as loosely organized pockets of opposition carried out raids throughout Spain in a sporadic and unpredictable way which the French could do little to prevent.
In Germany a new sense of nationalism grew in response to French domination. The sense of independence that was once a source of pride in the independent principalities and duchies was now perceived as a fatal weakness that had made Germany vulnerable to the French. In response, opposition forces in Germany began to work together, and many looked to Prussia for leadership. For its own part, Prussia quietly modernized its civil institutions and its army and waited for an opportunity.
In Russia, the competing ambitions of Tsar Alexander I and Napoleon led to renewed hostilities. In June of 1812, Napoleon invaded Russia with a Grand Army of over 600,000 troops. The Russian army retreated, stripping towns of supplies and burning croplands as they went. In September, the Russian army turned on the tired and hungry French troops at Borodino, some 70 miles east of Moscow, and fought one of the bloodiest battles of the nineteenth century. The Russians withdrew, opening the way to Moscow, but the French army lost over 40,000 men. On September 14, Napoleon led his army into Moscow to find that the Russians had deserted it and set it aflame. Napoleon reluctantly retreated, but it was too late. In November and December, the Russian winter and advancing Russian troops eventually finished off the Grand Army, undersupplied and too far from home. Nearly 500,000 French troops were lost in all; Napoleon abandoned them and dashed back to Paris.
Exile to Elba
News of the defeat of the Grand Army in Russia galvanized resistance to Napoleon's rule throughout Europe. Napoleon raised a new army, but it lacked the supplies and veterans lost in Russia. In October of 1813, a coalition of forces from Austria, Russia, Prussia, and Sweden defeated Napoleon's forces at Leipzig. In November, a combined force of British and Spanish troops crossed the Pyrenées into France and took Paris. The victorious coalition exiled Napoleon to the Island of Elba, off the coast of Italy.
The Battle of Waterloo
In 1815, Napoleon staged one last comeback, returning to France and raising one last army. He was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in Belgium by coalition forces led by the Duke of Wellington. Napoleon was finished. He was captured and imprisoned on the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic where he died six years later.
In November of 1814, representatives from the four major powers that had combined to defeat Napoleon—Great Britain, Russia, Prussia, and Austria—met in Paris at a peace conference that has come to be known as the Congress of Vienna. Those representatives—Lord Castlereagh, Tsar Alexander I, Baron Hardenberg, and Prince Klemens von Metternich—were all conservative members of the aristocracy. Accordingly, the goal of the conference was to reestablish the foundations of aristocratic dominance that had been challenged by the French Revolution. They were guided by the twin principles of legitimacy and stability.
The concept of legitimacy dictated that all European territories should be returned to the control of the aristocratic house that governed before Napoleon had redrawn the map. But the concept of stability meant a restoration of a balance of power in Europe. Accordingly, the important elements of the resulting settlement contained both tradition and innovation. The important components of the settlement included:
- the restoration of the monarchy in Spain under Ferdinand XVII
- the restoration of the monarchy in France under Louis XVIII
- the reconstitution of France inside borders that were nearly those of 1789
- the ceding of parts of Saxony, Westphalia, and the Rhine to Prussia
- the unification of the Austrian Netherlands (Belgium) and the Dutch Republic to form a single kingdom of the Netherlands under the House of Orange
- the placing of the kingdoms of Lombardy and Venetia in Italy, and of the states in the German Confederation, under the control of Austria
In an attempt to secure the balance of power created by the Vienna Settlement, the leaders of Austria, Russia, Prussia, and Great Britain entered into a military alliance designed to make aggression by individual states or kingdoms impossible. The alliance, created in November of 1815, came to be known as the Concert of Europe, for the way in which it required important diplomatic decisions to be made by all four great powers "in concert" with one another. In 1818, France, having paid its war indemnities, joined the alliance.
Revolution and Repression
The conservative intentions revealed in the aristocratic designs of the Vienna settlement flew in the face of both the liberal hopes and ambitions of middle- and working-class people (embodied by the Enlightenment and French Revolution) and the spirit of nationalism (which had grown in response to Napoleonic domination). The resulting tensions between the aristocratic ruling classes and their ambitious rivals further down the social ladder resulted in nearly two decades of revolution and repression. Between 1820 and 1848, waves of popular uprisings rose across Europe attempting to force reform from an aristocratic ruling class, which responded by censoring the press, imprisoning its enemies, and crushing uprisings.
The Revolutions of 1820–1829
During this period, the Concert of Europe sanctioned the use of military force to subdue several liberal and nationalist uprisings:
- In 1820, the Concert empowered France to intervene in Spain; in 1823, 100,000 French troops crushed Spanish opposition to the monarchy.
- In 1821, the Concert authorized Austria to put down uprisings in the Italian kingdoms of Sicily and Piedmont.
- In December of 1825, the new Russian Tsar, Nicholas I, with the blessings of the Concert, crushed a revolt led by reform-minded army officers.
- In 1829, a decade-long revolt in Greece culminated in its independence from the Ottoman Empire.
Britain dissented from these actions, arguing that the purpose of the Concert of Europe was to guard against future French aggression, not to interfere with the domestic politics of individual European countries. In 1822, Britain formally left the alliance, but it continued to consult with the other major powers.
The rebellion for Greek independence from the Muslim Empire of the Ottoman Turks was exceptional. The Greek rebellion was supported by the majority of the Concert for whom the cultural connections to Christian Greece trumped concerns for the precedent that a successful rebellion might set. Only Russia, who feared the spread of liberal and national sentiments into its adjoining empire, refused to support the Greek rebellion.
The Revolutions of 1830–1832
This period was characterized by limited success on the part of liberals and nationalists in France, Britain, and Belgium in forcing some measure of reform from their aristocratic rulers, and by the failure of such movements in Poland and Italy:
- In 1830, the French monarch Charles X issued the July Ordinances, which dissolved part of the legislative branch of the government and revoked the voting privileges of the bourgeoisie. The result was a rebellion by the bourgeoisie, students, and workers that forced Charles X to abdicate. The revolutionaries initially hoped to establish a republic, but the wealthy bourgeoisie asserted their control to save the monarchy and install the more compliant Louis Philippe on the throne.
- In August 1830, Belgian patriots rose up against their Dutch rulers, won their independence, and established a liberal government.
- In 1831, a coalition of Polish army officers, students, and intellectuals rose up against their Russian rulers and fought for independence, but their rebellion was crushed by Russian troops.
- In 1831–1832, Austrian troops crushed an Italian revolutionary movement that had been inspired by the Polish uprising.
- In 1832, pressure from riots, strikes, and demonstrations in Britain broke a stalemate between liberals in the House of Commons and conservatives in the House of Lords, resulting in the passage of the Reform Bill of 1832, which extended the vote to most of the adult male middle class.
The Revolutions of 1848
Poor harvests, famine, and financial crises during the 1840s intensified demands for reform and increased pressure on traditional governments to effect change. Those governments resisted and a wave of revolution broke across Europe that initially forced conservative governments to make concessions:
- In France, in February 1848, the decision by King Louis Philippe to ban reformers from holding public meetings (euphemistically known as "banquets") led to massive street demonstrations in Paris; violence escalated into revolution, forcing Louis Philippe to abdicate and a new French republic (known as the Second Republic) to be established.
- In Vienna, uprisings forced Prince Metternich to resign and the Hapsburg Emperor Ferdinand I to abolish many repressive laws. He also convened a constitutional assembly which voted to abolish serfdom. The Hapsburg monarchy was also faced with nationalist uprisings in the Czech and Hungarian areas of the Empire.
- In Berlin, violence broke out between the army and demonstrators; Frederick William IV ordered the troops out of the city and agreed to form a parliament and to incorporate liberal leaders into his government.
- In almost all of the capital cities of the German states, uprisings occurred, forcing rulers to pass liberal reforms. Flushed with success, liberal leaders formed the Frankfurt Assembly, whose members were popularly elected and charged with overseeing the formation of a new German nation.
- Across the Italian peninsula, liberal reformers and nationalists forced Pope Pius IX to flee Rome and forced concessions from their Austrian rulers in Naples, Tuscany, and Piedmont-Sardinia. In Milan and Venice, rebellions drove the Austrians out and proclaimed republics.
In the second half of 1848, conservative governments regrouped and met the revolutionary movements with a ruthless wave of repression:
- In Paris, the month of June saw an uprising by the working class and radicals who demanded relief from poverty and redistribution of wealth. Too radical to draw support from either the middle class or the peasantry, the rebellion was put down by the army. An election in December swept the conservative Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte (nephew of Napoleon) to power. Three years later, he staged his own coup d'état, putting an end to the Second Republic.
- In the Hapsburg Empire, June also marked a turning point, as Austrian military forces bombarded Prague and put an end to Czech nationalist hopes. In October, the military turned their cannon on the city of Vienna itself, overcoming revolutionary resistance and arresting (and, in some cases, executing) liberal leaders. The following year, Austrian forces, aided by Russian troops, ended the Hungarians' bid for independence.
- Heartened by the news from Vienna, Frederick William IV refused the crown offered him by the Frankfurt Assembly and used military troops to disperse the Assembly. In November, troops moved back into Berlin, where they faced little resistance. The reaction spread throughout Germany, as newly constituted parliaments and assemblies fell to the princes and their troops.
- In Italy, in 1849, Austrian troops reoccupied Milan and crushed revolutionaries in the South. In June of 1849, Louis-Napoleon came to the aid of the pope, sending 10,000 French soldiers to retake Rome and secure Pope Pius's return to power.
Between 1805 and 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte conquered or subdued all of continental Europe. Napoleon's model for the reshaping of Europe into his own personal empire was the Roman Empire. Accordingly, neoclassicism became the dominant architectural style in Europe. Napoleonic rule had the dual effect of spreading the egalitarian ideals of the French Revolution and kindling nationalist aspirations across the continent. Following Napoleon's final defeat in 1815, the traditional, aristocratic ruling houses of Europe reasserted their dominance. By 1848, the tension between the new liberal and nationalist aspirations of the people of Europe and the determined conservatism of the aristocratic masters led to a wave of violence. In the first half of 1848, liberal revolutionaries and nationalist rebels took physical control of major cities and established republics. During the second part of 1848, conservative forces regrouped and used the military to crush the rebellions and reestablish control.
The review questions for this study guide can be found at:
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